Game Training Phase – FFA National Curriculum

The Game Training Phase has two main objectives:

  • Preparing players for senior football by teaching them to apply functional game skills in a team setting using 1-4-3-3 as the preferred formation
  • Developing tactical awareness, perception and decision-making through a game-related approach to training.

Game Training Phase sessions consist of 4 components: Warm up, Positioning Game, Game Training, Training Game.

For more information about the Game Training Phase: https://www.playfootball.com.au/coach/game-training-phase-sessions

WHAT SHOULD YOU BE COACHING?

Communication: Team Task and Player Tasks

Decision Making and Execution of Decisions: Cues

For example, for every football action (pass/shot/dribble/run/press etc), consider the player’s:

  • Position – Body shape and use of space (passing lanes, between lines, level and outside)
  • Moment – Timing (too early, too late or ideal, and checking runs)
  • Direction – Accuracy, angle (straight or curved), distance and height
  • Speed – Power (too slow, too fast or ideal)

 


Playing Out from the Back Model Session 1

PASSING PRACTICE

See exercise diagram 1 See exercise diagram 2

https://youtu.be/qVpaOykykqc

Coaching Tips: Focus on players having an open body shape, passing with speed along the ground and with accuracy, and taking their first touch in the direction they want to go next. Do the sequence in the opposite direction as well.

Progressions: Encourage the players to try and limit themselves to 1 or 2 touches maximum, get them to pass to then pressure the next player, and also try to add decision making and variations to the sequence if you can.

POSITIONING GAME
See exercise diagram 1 See exercise diagram 2

https://youtu.be/3h7DM39pM2g

Coaching Tips: Make sure players #2 and #5 are outside the grid, not inside (remember they cannot score). Rather than having a goalkeeper waiting at the far end and the target #9, make these the same person so the game doesn’t need to move from one grid to another and both teams can practice playing out from the back (if possession changes teams, players just move in or out of the grid and continue playing). If you have 14+ players, you can do two games side by side (2v2+ a neutral player in the middle and both target players).

GAME TRAINING
See exercise diagram

https://youtu.be/ZkIdYEvYb3Q

 

Coaching Tips: Avoid having players as static targets (you can just have small goals instead) as well as having too few attackers to press, making it too easy for the team playing out from the back. Making the game 6v5 with the same number of players will be more realistic.

TRAINING GAME
See exercise diagram

 


Playing Out from the Back Model Session 2

PASSING PRACTICE

See exercise diagram 1 See exercise diagram 2

Coaching Tips: Focus on players having an open body shape, passing with speed along the ground and with accuracy, and taking their first touch in the direction they want to go next. Do the sequence on both sides so players can practice using both sides of their body.

Progressions: Encourage the players to try and limit themselves to 1 or 2 touches maximum, get them to pass to then pressure the next player, and also try to add decision making and variations to the sequence if you can.

POSITIONING GAME
See exercise diagram 1 See exercise diagram 2

Progressions: Consider adjusting the scoring rules when they try to pass to the target player to make it more challenging e.g. it can only be a one touch pass along the ground, so the player must scan before passing, have good body shape, and pass with accuracy and control.

GAME TRAINING
See exercise diagram 1 See exercise diagram 2 See exercise diagram 2

Coaching Tips: At this stage of the session, it would be ideal to have close to full pressure, so it isn’t too easy for the team in possession to score. Changing the number of players on both teams to be more evenly matched and playing one single game in one half will be more realistic e.g. 8v8, or reducing the length of the two respective areas e.g. 1/3.

TRAINING GAME
See exercise diagram


Midfield Play Model Session 1

PASSING PRACTICE

See exercise diagram 1 See exercise diagram 2

https://youtu.be/R2-PB0axH80

Coaching Tips: Focus on players having an open body shape, passing with speed along the ground and with accuracy, and taking their first touch in the direction they want to go next. Do the sequence on both sides so players can practice using both sides of their body.

Progressions: Add passive defenders who block one side of the receiver’s body so passers need to communicate and receivers need to scan and then make a choice (to turn forwards with the ball or bounce it back).

POSITIONING GAME
See exercise diagram

https://youtu.be/_oPgSEMdJNs

Progressions: Add scoring/competition e.g. if the ‘link’ player turns out and passes forwards successfully, or if both attacking teams collectively complete 10 passes in a row, both teams score a point. The defending team can also score a point if they intercept a pass from one attacking team and successfully pass to the other attacking team (this will also encourage focus on transition from all three teams).

GAME TRAINING
See exercise diagram 1 See exercise diagram 2

https://youtu.be/ymOacTO-Cj4

Coaching Tips: At this stage of the session, it would be ideal to have close to full pressure, so it isn’t too easy for the team in possession to score. Changing the number of players on both teams to be more evenly matched will be more realistic e.g. 3v3 in the centre and 1v1 at both ends (this way, both teams can also practice attacking as well). If this becomes too hard, #3 at the back can move into the central area when their team has possession to create a 4v3.

TRAINING GAME
See exercise diagram

 


Midfield Play Model Session 2

PASSING PRACTICE

See exercise diagram 1 See exercise diagram 2

Coaching Tips: Focus on players having an open body shape, passing with speed along the ground and with accuracy, and taking their first touch in the direction they want to go next. Do the sequence in the opposite direction as well.

Progressions: Add passive defenders who block one side of the receiver’s body so passers need to communicate and receivers need to scan and then make a choice (to turn forwards with the ball or bounce it back).

POSITIONING GAME
See exercise diagram

Progressions: Consider allowing #3 and #9 to come into the grid to help their team when they are in possession (which will make it a 4v3) to make it easier if they are struggling to score.

GAME TRAINING
See exercise diagram 1 See exercise diagram 2

Coaching Tips: At this stage of the session, it would be ideal to have close to full pressure, so it isn’t too easy for the team in possession to score. Changing the number of players on both teams to be more evenly matched will be more realistic e.g. 5v3 in the first third then 3v4 in the centre third. It’s also important at this stage of the session for motivation to give the opposition team a realistic method of scoring if they win the ball, e.g. being allowed to score against the goalkeeper.

TRAINING GAME
See exercise diagram


Attacking Model Session 1 (Central Areas)

PASSING PRACTICE

See exercise diagram 1 See exercise diagram 2

Coaching Tips: Focus on players having an open body shape, passing with speed along the ground and with accuracy, and taking their first touch in the direction they want to go next. Do the sequence on both sides so players can practice using both sides of their body.

Progressions: Encourage the players to try and limit themselves to 1 or 2 touches maximum. Add a second player at #9 so the next players don’t need to wait too long to start the sequence again. Encourage the group to figure out a solution themselves if the sequence confuses them – the suggested variation is actually easier to understand than the first version.

POSITIONING GAME
See exercise diagram 1 See exercise diagram 2

Progressions: Add small goals one either side of the goalkeepers (replicating passing through balls to wingers) so teams can score when they are attacking.

GAME TRAINING
See exercise diagram

Coaching Tips: At this stage of the session, it would be ideal to have close to full pressure, so it isn’t too easy for the team in possession to score. Changing the number of players on both teams to be more evenly matched will be more realistic e.g. 4v4 in the centre and #3 or the goalkeeper at either end. If this becomes too hard, #3 at the back can move into the central area when their team has possession to create a 5v4, and also be a neutral player, so they can help the defenders score when they win possession.

TRAINING GAME
See exercise diagram


Attacking Model Session 2 (Wide Areas)

PASSING PRACTICE

See exercise diagram

https://youtu.be/jkAdQgM4Gcg

Coaching Tips: Focus on players having an open body shape, passing with speed along the ground and with accuracy, and taking their first touch in the direction they want to go next.

Progressions: Encourage the players to try and limit themselves to 1 or 2 touches maximum. Have the second group defending passively rather than just waiting. If two groups working at the same time in the same space is too confusing, split them onto different sides of the pitch to work separately.

POSITIONING GAME
See exercise diagram 1 See exercise diagram 2

https://youtu.be/2_drDlLUypI

Coaching Tips: #1 can actually play as #3 instead given the game is focused on attacking (so the ball isn’t passed backwards all the time – maybe limit how often this is permitted, or alternatively, only allow the opposition to tackle once the ball reaches a certain point). Rather than having a goalkeeper waiting at the far end and the target #9, make these the same person so the game doesn’t need to move from one grid to another and both teams can practice attacking (if possession changes teams, just continue playing).

GAME TRAINING
See exercise diagram 1 See exercise diagram 2

https://youtu.be/SJXOSRjHJj4

Coaching Tips: At this stage of the session, it would be ideal to have close to full pressure, so it isn’t too easy for the team in possession to score. Changing the number of players on both teams to be more evenly matched will be more realistic e.g. 6v5. It’s also important at this stage of the session for motivation to give the opposition team a realistic method of scoring if they win the ball, e.g. being allowed to score into small goals at the opposite end of the area

TRAINING GAME
See exercise diagram

 


Disturbing and Pressing Model Session 1

PASSING PRACTICE

See exercise diagram 1 See exercise diagram 2

Coaching Tips: Focus on players having an open body shape, passing with speed along the ground and with accuracy, and taking their first touch in the direction they want to go next.

Progressions: Encourage the players to try and limit themselves to 1 or 2 touches maximum. Rotate the pressing players regularly. Add scoring/competition e.g. all six passing players need to get a touch to win a point, but the pressers just need to intercept the ball once (this can be done using the prescribed sequence or even making it free choice for the passing players).

POSITIONING GAME
See exercise diagram 1 See exercise diagram 2

Progressions: Consider using a large empty goal for the defence to score into instead of #22 if the attackers do not press with enough intensity (the ease of scoring for the team playing out from the back needs to be high, and the consequence for the attacking team not pressing needs to be obvious).

GAME TRAINING
See exercise diagram

Coaching Tips: At this stage of the session, it would be ideal to have close to full pressure, so it isn’t too easy for the team in possession to score. Changing the number of players on both teams to be more evenly matched will be more realistic e.g. 6v5, or reducing the length of the areas e.g. 1/3.

TRAINING GAME
See exercise diagram

 


Disturbing and Pressing Model Session 2

PASSING PRACTICE

See exercise diagram 1 See exercise diagram 2

Coaching Tips: Focus on players having an open body shape, passing with speed along the ground and with accuracy, and taking their first touch in the direction they want to go next.

Progressions: Encourage the players to try and limit themselves to 1 or 2 touches maximum. Rotate the pressing players regularly. Add scoring/competition e.g. passing players need to get 15 consecutive passes to win a point, but the pressers just need to intercept the ball once (this can be done using the prescribed sequence or even making it free choice for the passing players).

POSITIONING GAME
See exercise diagram

Coaching Tips: With 14+ players, consider playing two games side by side for higher repetition and more touches. Each game can still work if there are at least enough players to do 3v3 on each side, and 2 others to play as shared targets at each end (if the target players are being shared between both games, this will challenge their decision making, because players will only be able to score by passing to the targets when they ready to receive a pass, so good communication and awareness will be required).

GAME TRAINING
See exercise diagram 1 See exercise diagram 2

Progressions: Consider using a large empty goal for the defence to score into instead of #1 if the attackers do not press with enough intensity (the ease of scoring for the team playing out from the back needs to be high, and the consequence for the attacking team not pressing needs to be obvious).

TRAINING GAME
See exercise diagram

 


Defending Model Session 1 (zonal)

PASSING PRACTICE

See exercise diagram

Coaching Tips: Focus on players having an open body shape, passing with speed along the ground and with accuracy, and taking their first touch in the direction they want to go next.

Progressions: Encourage the players to try and limit themselves to 1 or 2 touches maximum. Rotate the defending players regularly. Add scoring/competition e.g. put #9 in zone A and the attack scores with a successful flat through ball to them, and the defence scores if they intercept the ball.

POSITIONING GAME
See exercise diagram

https://youtu.be/rj8XaOngS-w

 

Coaching Tips: The player who presses can (or should, depending on the level of your players) swap based on the ball’s position (so instead of one player chasing the ball each time until they force a mistake, they can communicate with each other and switch if they think that will be more effective).

Progressions: To make it harder for the attackers, you can allow more than one defender to press (maybe after the attackers reach a certain number of passes, or if they score too easily – and you can also make it a choice for the defenders whether they want to do this or not to force them to communicate). To make it harder for the defenders, you can allow the attackers to pass across the grid in the air, so there is realistic decision making, and the defenders need to press more aggressively. You can also increase the complexity for both teams by awarding extra points to the attackers if they manage to play a one-touch killer pass between two defenders across the grid, and awarding points to the defenders if instead of just forcing a mistake, they can actually win possession and pass back to their teammates in grid B (this will also encourage focus on transition from both teams).

GAME TRAINING
See exercise diagram 1 See exercise diagram 2

Coaching Tips: At this stage of the session, it would be ideal to have close to full pressure, so it isn’t too easy for the team in possession to score. Changing the number of players on both teams to be more evenly matched will be more realistic e.g. 6v6. It’s also important at this stage of the session for motivation to give the opposition team a realistic method of scoring if they win the ball, e.g. being allowed to score against the goalkeeper.

TRAINING GAME
See exercise diagram

 


Defending Model Session 2 (long ball)

PASSING PRACTICE

See exercise diagram

Coaching Tips: Focus on players having an open body shape, passing with speed along the ground and with accuracy, and taking their first touch in the direction they want to go next. Do the sequence on both sides so players can practice using both sides of their body.

Progressions: Add a passive striker next to player C who can receive passes from player B to their feet or in the air, so the defender needs to anticipate and read which option to defend (whichever player wins the ball passes it to the player D regardless).

POSITIONING GAME
See exercise diagram

https://youtu.be/rj8XaOngS-w

Progressions: Consider increasing the complexity for both teams by awarding extra points to the attackers if they manage to play a one-touch pass in the air or along the ground across the grid, and awarding points to the defenders if instead of just forcing a mistake, they can actually win possession through an interception or winning a header and passing to their teammates in grid B (this will also encourage focus on transition from both teams).

GAME TRAINING
See exercise diagram

Progressions: Consider also working on defending long balls behind a high defensive line (and mixing it up randomly so the defenders need to prepare and respond to either possibility).

TRAINING GAME
See exercise diagram

 


Transitioning Model Session 2 (BP to BPO)

PASSING PRACTICE

See exercise diagram 1 See exercise diagram 2

Coaching Tips: Focus on players having an open body shape, passing with speed along the ground and with accuracy, and taking their first touch in the direction they want to go next.

Progressions: Encourage the players to try and limit themselves to 1 or 2 touches maximum. Try to add decision making and variations to the sequence if you can or to simplify it e.g. players can pass and run anywhere as long as it doesn’t break down and no cone is left empty or has too many players waiting on it.

POSITIONING GAME
See exercise diagram

Progressions: Consider adding a gap between the two areas if the transition is too easy, and make the areas smaller if the two defenders struggle to force a mistake.

GAME TRAINING
See exercise diagram

Coaching Tips: Allow continual transition (no restarts) for both teams to emphasise recovery when possession is lost.

TRAINING GAME
See exercise diagram

 


Transitioning Model Session 2 (BPO to BP)

PASSING PRACTICE

See exercise diagram 1 See exercise diagram 2

Coaching Tips: Focus on players having an open body shape, passing with speed along the ground and with accuracy, and taking their first touch in the direction they want to go next.

Progressions: Encourage the players to try and limit themselves to 1 or 2 touches maximum. Try to add decision making and variations to the sequence if you can or to simplify it e.g. the suggested variation is the best version and can be done with free choice for the passing players.

POSITIONING GAME
See exercise diagram 1 See exercise diagram 2

Progressions: Add scoring/competition e.g. if the ‘link’ player turns out and passes forwards successfully, or if both attacking teams collectively complete 10 passes in a row, both teams score a point. The defending team can also score a point if they intercept a pass from one attacking team and successfully pass to the other attacking team (this will encourage focus on transition from all three teams).

GAME TRAINING
See exercise diagram 1 See exercise diagram 2

https://youtu.be/rj8XaOngS-w

Progressions: To make it harder for the attackers, you can allow more than one defender to press (maybe after the attackers reach a certain number of passes, or if they score too easily – and you can also make it a choice for the defenders whether they want to do this or not to force them to communicate). You can also increase the incentive for the defenders by awarding points if instead of just forcing a mistake, they can actually win possession and pass back to their teammates in grid B (this will encourage focus on transition from both teams).

TRAINING GAME
See exercise diagram 1 See exercise diagram 2